Andy Samberg, NBC Hit With Lawsuit Over ‘SNL’ Digital Short Featuring Rihanna
Lonely Island frontman/comedian Andy Samberg and NBC have been slapped with a lawsuit over two musically-driven digital shorts that aired on 'Saturday Night Live.' One of the shorts was Samberg's duet with actor Seth Rogen on 'Like a Boss,' and the other was the Emmy-nominated 'Shy Ronnie' sketch that featured Bajan songstress Rihanna.
Last Thursday, Aleric Banks (aka "Rick tha Ruler") and Monique Hines filed a lawsuit against Samberg and NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Banks and Hines are a production team based out of St. Louis, and they are claiming that they created the music for the 'Like a Boss' and 'Shy Ronnie' digital shorts.
THR states that the duo knew Samberg, and when he was creating tracks for his Lonely Island debut, they submitted some of their music to the actor. Apparently, Samberg used the music from tracks "verbatim" on his recordings, and then wrote his own lyrics to accompany the tunes.
Fast forward to a year later, when Samberg recycled some of Banks' and Hines' music for his 2009 'SNL' sketches 'Like a Boss' and 'Shy Ronnie.' In the 'Shy Ronnie' short, Rihanna performs an inspirational song for a group of school kids, while Samberg's nerdy, quiet-voiced rapping character Shy Ronnie attempts to spit some audible lyrics to no avail.
At first, Banks and Hines were excited about hearing their music in the Emmy-nominated sketch ('Shy Ronnie' was up for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics). However, after failing to receive any sort of credit or compensation for their work, the duo has now filed suit in New York federal court.
The plaintiffs stated that before Samberg released his 'SNL' shorts and his Lonely Island LP, a "Universal Music Group subsidiary label sent them a 'producer declaration' form" (via THR). Banks filled out the form, outlining the fact that as the producer and writer of the 'Like a Boss' and 'Shy Ronnie' music, he was a 50 percent owner of the copyright.
Despite this, Banks received a letter from UMG saying he was only entitled to 25 percent of the copyright interest. Neither he or Hines have seen a penny from NBC, Samberg, the Lonely Island, or UMG for their production work. The duo have now filed a copyright infringement and unjust enrichment suit. NBC had no comment on the matter.
Watch the 'Shy Ronnie' Digital Short